The one very dear pleasure of “My Simple Pleasures” starting with the letter M is music. Music has been an integral part of my life as far back as I can remember. My mother played the piano often once her flock of kids could stand or sit still long enough.
I remember her playing very old songs from a bygone era; songs such as “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue,” which I sang just yesterday with another friend and still remembered the words! This was originally sung in the Roaring 20s when my grandmother was a young woman. Have a listen at Guy Lombardo and his band:
We grew up in the church so mother played hymns from an old Baptist hymnal from her youth. My younger sister and I listened in wonder and soon learned many of the songs of mother’s church piano playing days. Later my brother and youngest sister joined in as well.
Then when I was in school in the 1st grade we were taught songs that we enjoyed like ” like “A Frog Went a Courting, He Did Ride.” This song had something like 20 verses of which only a few I can still remember. One song I can still sing is “Get Along Home, Cindy, Cindy,” which I heard sung by Rick Nelson on a John Wayne movie named “Rio Bravo.”
Our parents loved jazz so we listened to Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, Al Hirt’ New Orleans jazz, (both of trumpet fame) and Pete Fountain of clarinet fame. There was also classical music as well. Each of us had some training on a piano or violin.
As soon as we were old enough we joined the church choir and later church choir camp. I sang a one verse solo in front of a huge church when I was about 12 for the Christmas Cantata. My solo was to sing the cow’s song, from “The Friendly Beasts.”
I said the cow, all white and red.
I gave him my manger for his bed,
I gave him my hay to pillow his head,
I said the cow all white and red.”
When our family traveled, aside from playing the alphabet game with road signs, we would sing songs acapella, (without an instrument). We sang rounds and hymns and other songs.
As I grew up I listened to the radio (except when doing my homework because I ended up singing along and not doing the work). I used to listen to my 45’s, then LP’s. Later audio tapes then CD’s filled my ears with music. (I haven’t graduated to MP3 players yet. Who knows? Maybe that will be the next form of music listening pleasure that I try.)
Later when I started dating as an older teenager, my future husband introduced me to heavy rock. I attended concerts by Alice Cooper, Rare Earth, Yes, Queen, Neil Diamond, James Taylor and several more. My exposure to this music rounded out my knowledge and love for more and quite different kinds of music.
To this day Carole King, Carlie Simon, Jimmy Buffet and James Taylor are my favorite musicians. I still enjoy their melodies and songs. I also sing out loud when I am driving or in the shower but I still love many of the hymns I grew up with as well.
At an early age I remember a dream that I had about a monster who was in the room with me. He would get bigger and bigger and more growly but the moment I started playing music on the piano he calmed down and went to sleep. I later wondered if this dream was precipitated from my young mind’s interpretation of the quote, or actually the misquote, “Music soothes the savage beast.” The actual quote is by William Congreve from 1697, “The Mourning Bride:”
Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King;
He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg’d
Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
Why am not I at Peace?
Music calmed, relaxed, distracted, inspired dancing and exercise. I remember fondly singing to my first son when he was a baby.
But my favorite of all pieces of music is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: “Ode To Joy.” Please, listen and watch. See if you don’t feel joy!